Since 2000, few retail macro trends have been as pivotal as Athleisure.
Category leader Lululemon Athletica is often credited for creating this new category through their early collections of stylish activewear that looked as great as they felt. They perfected the on-the-go outfit for both the yoga studio and brunch date.
Fast forward to today, and many more retailers and brands have an athleisure collection as part of their assortment mix. While Athleisure isn’t going anywhere per se, the seeds of this trend have blossomed into a whole new fashionably acceptable aesthetic: embracing comfort!
Let’s explore the elements of this trend, see which notable brands and micro trends are embracing comfort, and see how this is driving shopping behaviors.
Consumers Embrace Comfort as Style, Not Just Benefit
The comfort trend has undergone an interesting evolution, extending its influence beyond loungewear and athleisure into a broader suite of occasion wear like day casual, work, and even evening.
While the rise of post-pandemic remote work (a benefit at Lily AI!) may have helped accelerate the trend, designers and consumers were already experimenting with styles that are unapologetically comfortable.
Some of the marquee elements and attributes that you’ll find with comfort are:
- Cut: relaxed or loose fits
- Construction: adjustability, cushion, arch support, wire-free bras
- Fabrics: breathability, soft fabrics, 4-way stretch, functional materials
- Embellishments: generally minimal, yet might include ruching or tag-less labels
Brands and Micro Trends Embracing Comfort
Comfort is permeating the retail industry, driving new innovations and collaborations. Across trends, categories, and brands, you can find comfort in (no pun intended):
- Crocs: This legendary comfort shoe brand is riding the wave and seeing skyrocketing sales with a killer combination of comfort-focused, cushion-like construction and unique collaborations–including luxury brand Balenciaga.
- Quiet Luxury: This trend embraces loose-fitting garments in classic silhouettes made from high-quality fabrics. This style exudes an air of effortless elegance, offering comfort without compromising on luxury.
- Ugly Fashion: This look challenges traditional beauty standards by embracing unconventional elements such as oversized fit, chunky sneakers, and bold patterns. This trend promotes individuality and self-expression, focusing on comfort while pushing fashion boundaries.
- Intimates: Where dressing for comfort begins. Seamless underwear and wire-free bras have emerged as popular choices, with brands like ThirdLove and Adore Me (which can now be found at Walmart) offer a range of consumer-approved options.
- Dad Shoes: Think Balenciaga’s Triple S sneakers, this “dad shoes” aesthetic gained popularity for their chunky soles and retro-inspired designs.
The Search for Comfort
Google Shopping searches that include the word “comfortable” are on the rise, according to Google Trends. As are searches for similar attributes that denote comfort, like “soft”, “cushioned”, “stretchy”, “breathable”, “loose fit” and “baggy.”
Perhaps now, the elusive comfortable dress shoe, leather pants, work suit, or date night outfit is finally a few clicks away!
How to Harness AI to Capitalize on Comfort
Applying trends to your product catalog is the easiest way to operationally curate trend collections.
But without AI, this process is easier said than done. With AI-powered product attribution from Lily AI, brands and retailers can automatically enrich their entire catalog with not just product details like embellishments, closures, and fit, but also styles, occasions, and, you guessed it–the latest trends. Now with the click of a button, marketers and merchandisers can easily curate product collections for “on-trend” marketing campaigns and launch those promotions faster, to capitalize on trends earlier.
Learn how Lily AI helps retailers and brands capitalize on trends faster in our Trends Attribution 101 post!